Last year, Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post wrote a story with an interactive map about the USDA’s “natural amenities index,” a data set that ranked all the counties of the United States in various livability parameters. One had to come in last, and that county was Red Lake County, Minnesota. Immediately after it was published, Ingraham heard from indignant Minnesotans, a relatively polite backlash that included an invitation to visit Red Lake County. So he did.
Weeks went by, autumn's campaign season madness began in earnest, but I couldn't stop thinking about the places in Red Lake County I'd visited, or the people I met there. People who'd shown kindnesses small and large -- from a friendly handshake at the bar to an entire cake baked and decorated with cartographic precision as a map of the county -- to a stranger who they only knew from a line of snark he'd tossed into a news story.
I kept dreaming about big skies. Broad rivers. Flat roads running to the horizon and towns that smelled of wood and grain and dry prairie air.
Skipping to the end of the story, Ingraham is moving to Red Lake County, along with his wife and two young sons. He will continue to write for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Ingraham received a welcome and a hand-drawn map from Minnesota senator Al Franken, which you can see in the story about Ingrahams’ decision. -via Digg
(Image credit: Flickr user J. Stephen Conn)